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Saudi Arabian GP: Preview - Haas

NEWS STORY
23/03/2022

Race one of 23 completed - what are your key takeaways and how fair an assessment of the grid has been made following the Bahrain Grand Prix? How do you rate both driver performances over the weekend?
Guenther Steiner: "I think we saw the speed of the cars and they will be similar until the upgrades kick in, but we still have to wait for a few more races, including street circuits, to know where everybody is at - Red Bull didn't finish the last race but they will in future. Our drivers, from where we came to where we ended up was pretty good. Mick struggled a little bit more last weekend - in qualifying with his fastest lap having a little mistake and then in the race he got compromised by Ocon, who ran into the back of him, and he spun. That's never good because you then have to clean up your tires again and you just fall back, but he will make this up in the next races."

After only three months, Formula 1 is back in Jeddah for Round 2 of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship - the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. What were your first impressions of the event and such a short turnaround between the two races?
GS: "I really look forward to going back to Jeddah. It was a very interesting race track which was very different to anything else. The organizers did a very good job last year to get the track ready at the last minute and for sure they've made improvements to the little things that were not perfect the first time around. I'm really looking forward to getting back there."

Saudi was a challenging race for the team last year. With changes being made to the track to aid driver sightlines, do you think opinions of the fast and flowing Jeddah Corniche Circuit will change?
GS: "I think every race was a challenge for us last year but with Nikita running into Russell, it was a bit more than it was normally. I still need to see the changes but they know what they need to do in these high-speed sectors so you can see forwards a little bit more to help to avoid situations. I don't think it will compromise how good the race track actually is."

We're moving from testing and racing at permanent circuits such as Barcelona and Bahrain to a temporary street circuit in Saudi Arabia. Is the VF-22 showing signs that it's a car that will be able to compete at a variety of circuits - in particular what are the strengths you've seen exhibited by the package at this early stage of the season?
GS: "I think the car should be competitive everywhere, in some places more and some places less, but it's the same for everybody. In general, I think this is good for the championship."

Your first weekend back as a Formula 1 driver completed - how did it feel and what were your key takeaways and learnings to put into practice this week?
Kevin Magnussen: "It was pretty unbelievable - to be top five was crazy. The car felt very good and we were able to push the entire race. We maybe had more degradation than we expected in the first stint but we made up for that in the second and got back on track. The team has done such an amazing job to get us into this position."

A new track for you, but it's only been three months since Formula 1 first raced in Jeddah for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. It's the second-longest track after Spa-Francorchamps and the fastest street-based course of the season, with a record 27 corners. What are your feelings ahead of tackling such an extensive race track?
KM: "From watching on TV last year, it looked like a pretty spectacular track which is super high-speed considering it's a street circuit. I'm really looking forward to it, I love street circuits and it looks like a challenging one so let's see. I don't know it of course, so it will take a few laps to get fully up to grips with it, but I'm looking forward to it."

What types of preparation can you do before getting on track on Friday? How vital is the team's feedback and going through data going to be to learn a new track?
KM: "It will be about watching a lot of on-board videos, looking at data to get an understanding of the driving style that is required for the different corners of the track and going through data on the evolution that the track goes through. Also understanding the tarmac, which kerbs are usable is important. Then it's about doing the track walk and actually seeing it up close and then just getting up to speed with it in practice."

Knowing the VF-22 a little better now, how do you expect this new generation of car to handle across a very fast and flowing Jeddah Corniche Circuit?
KM: "We've learned a lot from the car this weekend though but at this point it's still difficult to say anything about the strengths and weaknesses of our car. Driving it, it doesn't feel like it's got any massive weaknesses, it's balanced throughout different speeds but it's hard to say whether the other cars are even more balanced than ours or have even more grip."

Your best Grand Prix finish in Formula 1 in 11th place, and so close to getting your first points as well. How do you evaluate the opening race of the season?
Mick Schumacher: "So close, yet so far. I made the call that I wanted to try and stay out and keep track position, which I now know was the wrong decision, but we'll be better next time. The first race of the year is normally quite a messy one, as we saw, but we've learned from it. It was a bittersweet day as the team collected a lot of points and it was great to see after so many years of problems to be back in a good position."

After only three months, Formula 1 is back in Jeddah for Round 2 of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship - the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Changes have been made to the track to improve sightline for drivers and the exit of 27 has been widened by 1.5 meters, making the track potentially even quicker - are you excited to take the VF-22 for a lap around the fastest street track in Formula 1?
MS: "It will be the first time for us to get out on a street circuit, so it will be interesting to see how things develop, how close we can get to the walls and what potential damage there is if you do touch the wall. For example, last year if you did grind the wall a little you would get away with it with a bit of tire just scraped off but in this case the rims are a much more vulnerable target so it will be for sure easier to run into trouble. It will be interesting to see what happens and how drivers will be able to cope with it."

After testing and one race on a custom-built circuit, how do you expect the new cars to handle across a very fast and flowing Jeddah Corniche Circuit?
MS: "The bouncing of the car might potentially be a bit worse just because of the characteristics of the track maybe being bumpy and obviously quite quick. It will be interesting to see what kind of feeling we'll get in the car but I'm sure it will be fine and we will manage."

It was a challenging race for the team last season. With so much drama happening up and down the grid, do you think there will be a more cautious approach considering how crucial running is currently to understand these new cars?
MS: "The races turn out as they do so I guess it will be hard to predict what is going to happen. I don't see people being more cautious just because of the nature of it and if anything, actually because of the new cars people will try to go harder on it, especially at the beginning of the year to get more out of it."

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